What Sparked Mannequin?
The story of the rise of hate and anti-semtism has haunted my mind since the 2016 election when a swastika was spray-painted on the window of a defunct South Philly fur store. I have always wanted to write a musical. These 2 motivations combined forces, and I finally sat down to craft MANNEQUIN when we were all in Covid 19 forced isolation lockdown in 2020. I needed to channel my despair and keep being creative somehow, so I wrote this musical. These images are of Meglio Furs, the actual site where the defacement occurred.
About the play
MANNEQUIN takes place at the site of a fur store in South Philly, hopscotching through time from 1965 to the present time of 2020. There’s a longstanding conflict between the owner, Olive, an elderly Jewish woman who is a Holocaust survivor, and Betty, a protester who vehemently opposes the fur trade and its barbarism. Olive takes solace in collecting mannequins for her shop, and they animate to talk to her and one another in private moments. She must negotiate terms with a South Philly mobster to keep her business going through the decades and navigate the rougher edges of the streets, and being a woman alone in order to keep her shop afloat. In 2019, when the play begins, 13-year-old, Patti, and her mother moving to the neighborhood. Patti feels alone in her new city and gravitates to the shop and to Olive to fulfill some kind of community. To combat her loneliness Patti also engages a teenager online who later turns out to be quite troubled. The mannequins serve as a modern greek chorus, sharing their observations on how they see us humans and one other, looking at the world with depth, humor, and absurdity.
The reading in 2020
I workshopped a virtual reading of Mannequin in 2020 as an AEA showcase and fundraiser for the Poor People’s Campaign. I cast 16 actors all around the country to play to play the humans and mannequins (shown with pink backgrounds). After just 3 rehearsals, with the amazing Jasmine Hammon at the helm as Stage Manager and Assistant Director, we performed LIVE on Zoom on December 5, 2020.
Invitation to Play
I produced a cabaret of songs from Mannequin for FringeArts 2021. I cast 3 actors and myself to perform 11 songs. I engaged Andrew Mullin to create my sheet music, and Steven Crino adapted and played the music. Pictured here are Lexi Thammavong, Christine DiJoseph, and Samantha Solar.